Beneficial Insects: A Grow-Green Guide

 Don’t kill the good guys!


More than 95% of insects aren’t pests. Some pollinate our flowers and vegetables, while many others feed on pests in our gardens as shown above. By allowing them to do their job, we can reduce the need for pesticides and maintain our local water quality.

How to…

Prevent pests

  • Use disease and insect- resistant plants

  • Monitor your plants regularly to catch problems early

  • Encourage birds, lizards and frogs – they can be very helpful in controlling insects

  • Properly identify problem pests before treating and choose treatment according to the pest

Attract beneficials to your yard

  • Plan the garden so there are blooming plants throughout the seasons to provide nectar and pollen

  • Provide an accessible source of water, such as a bird bath, small water garden or a pond and some rocks so they can access the water safely

  • Provide shelter – leave some leaf litter or plant some ground covers

Introduce populations of natural enemies

  • If you don’t have enough beneficals in your yard, purchase them from a nursery or commercial insectary

  • Follow release directions from supplier for optimum results

Make smart product choices

  • When spraying is necessary, select a narrow spectrum product whenever possible.

  • Broad spectrum insecticides don’t discriminate between pests and beneficial insects – they kill both. This can include naturally-derived products such as pyrethrum and rotenone as well as chemical products

  • Avoid over-use of pesticides – they can increase the chance of pest resistance

  • Choose an insecticide that won’t harm other insect-eating garden creatures like birds, bats, spiders, lizards, and toads (see last page and Grow Green Products fact sheet for ratings)

  • Treat only the outbreak area

  • Choose products that break down quickly like soaps or pyrethrum sprays

Be patient

  • Tolerate a few pests – they provide a food source for beneficial insects

  • Resist the urge to spray when you first see plant damage – plants can withstand a lot of damage and you should allow time for beneficial populations to build up

  • Monitor outbreak areas – if beneficials do not populate, other solutions may be necessary

 Good Guys photo credits ewg 3a 1A

Assassin bug ewg 3a 2

Damsek bug ewg 3a 3







Damsel fly ewg 3a 4

Giant wheel bug ewg 3a 5






Ground Scarab beetle ewg 3a 6Honey bees ewg 3a 7

Lady Beetle Cropped

Praying Mantis cropped

Predatory flies

Predatory Red Wasp ewg 3a 9

Spiders ewg 3a 10

Syrphid fly ewg 3a 11

For more details about these beneficial insects,
where they live and what they eat click here.


[divider]PLEASE NOTE that managed colonies of bees, important pollinators, are believed to be in decline because of mites, diseases and environmental stresses including the over-use of pesticides. 

Your informed choices make a difference.
Could you share this article with your gardening neighbor?




  • A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects, Drees & Jackman

  • The Texas Bug Book— the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Malcolm Beck and Howard Garrett

  • Natural Enemies Handbook – The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control, University of California Press

  • Common Sense Pest Control, William Olkowski, et al.




Content and copyright permission generously granted by: 
Austin Grow Green: www.growgreen.orgwho works in close association with:
Texas AgriLife Extension Service:  http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu


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This post was written by Marjory

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